SYDNEY Swans defender Alex Johnson has opened up about the day he was told his reconstructed knee was "hanging by a thread" and he was back to square one in his long road to recovery.
Johnson ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament in the Swans' final NAB Cup game before the 2013 season.
It was a tough diagnosis for a young man who had experienced a dream first two years of his AFL career, capped by the 2012 flag.
He spent a week weighing up whether to have a traditional reconstruction or join a growing list of teammates to utilise the LARS procedure, eventually deciding on the former.
Five months later Johnson was back running, but some soreness appeared and that's when he received some crushing information.
"It was really unusual. I'd never heard of it before," Johnson told
"I had a scope done and when I came out of the anaesthetic the surgeon said 'I've got some terrible news. It hasn't held and we're going to have to do another one'.
"I'd heard of guys coming back and then it going again, because they were doing that side-to-side movement.
"But I'd done two or three sessions of running and just pulled up a bit sore.
"They initially thought it was a bit of bone bruising, but it didn't go away.
"We had the scope and the surgeon said half of it had basically disintegrated and the other half was just hanging on by a thread."
It was a revelation that initially rocked the 21-year-old.

But Johnson is a strong character who displays maturity beyond his years and he quickly knew the path he needed to take.
"It was obviously devastating news," he said.
"You make little goals if you've got such a long injury and I knew I had nine months ahead of me to get back to full training, and running was a major step.
"I thought 'here we go'. Then to have that setback was shattering.
"I assessed my options and if I had another traditional I'd miss another half of this year and I wasn’t really prepared to do that.
"I was pretty close to getting LARS the first time, so I decided to go that way and it's been perfect ever since.
"I walked out of hospital a few days later and the difference is unbelievable."
And so began another round of recovery, although this time the process has been much quicker courtesy of the LARS-hybrid surgery.

Johnson is again back running and hopes to take part in some skill work later this month.
It has all been a testing time for the 193cm defender, who the Swans took with the 57th pick of the 2010 NAB AFL Draft.
Thrown into senior football in round three of the following season, Johnson slotted in superbly, making 45 appearances in the next two years.
He has never been dropped, playing every game in the 2012 premiership campaign, and his absence has been felt strongly by his coach John Longmire.
"It doesn't happen too often from all reports and it was obviously a huge setback to have a reconstruction fail," Longmire said.
"It was a really big setback for him, but he's got through that now hopefully and he's pretty positive in his rehab.
"We've really noticed his athleticism when he's back training. He's an elite runner with speed and endurance.
"He's an important player for us and can play on any size player.
"Hopefully he's through all that now and he's certainly running really well."
Johnson has had no shortage of support during his rehabilitation, including fellow LARS advocate and teammate Nick Malceski, who has had the procedure done twice.
While he admits he had some "dark times", Johnson used his enforced lay-off to his advantage.
It didn't take long to appreciate he had been incredibly fortunate to play so many games and enjoy a premiership in just two years of football at the highest level.
And he also learned more about his chosen craft.
"I spent a bit of time watching the key defenders in the competition and that's where I want to get to in the next couple of years," Johnson said.
"I do have a lot of areas to improve on and that's what's going to make me a better player.
"Hopefully I can get over this little hiccup, get back into full training and then look to build on where I left off in 2012.
"I hope Teddy (Richards) plays forever, but the reality is he won't.
"He's got maybe a few more years left in him and then maybe I can step in and take that key position role."
He'll have no shortage of help when he does return to full training, with key forwards Lance Franklin and Kurt Tippett on hand.
Johnson is hopeful of playing in the Swans' opening game of the season against Greater Western Sydney.
"My goal is to play round one. That's what I want to do," he said.
"I don't want to miss any more senior games. It was sofrustrating watching last year and not being able to help the team.
"Fingers crossed no setbacks from here and I'll go into round one fit and ready to go."